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Rainwater Harvesting

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Water is life. We get it from rivers, lakes, springs, and reservoirs to stay hydrated, water our crops, clean, and so much more.

But we do tend to forget one very central and important source of life-giving water…


Without rain, the purity of our springs and other water sources wouldn’t be as clean or replenished.

And did you know: you can tap into rain yourself as a freshwater source?

It’s called “rain harvesting!”

There are many ways rain can be collected: with gutters, barrels, and cisterns from rooftops or other large surfaces that capture and channel rain.

Instead of pulling water up from the ground or even the ocean (each of which are often chemically treated water sources)…

…you can easily turn a corner of your yard, balcony, or your roof into a source of water.

(Of course, every region is different, and will vary on how much rain you get per year. But with a lot or a little, it is still a great idea to maximize this free resource.)

There are a couple things you should know about rainwater real quick…

First: rainwater isn’t drinkable! Not until you purify, filter, or disinfect it (and preferably all three of these), which is possible.

Stored rainwater can still contain parasites, pathogens, and unwanted sediment or dirt. It may also contain contaminants and pollutants that are unfortunately found in the air in many areas on Earth.

Some folks would recommend, iodine tablets, filters, boiling, or other treatments to help make it safe - but I still would not recommend this as a go-to drinking source, unless you have consultant with an expert in water purification.

If you’re using rainwater for cleaning, handwashing, or watering your garden on the other hand, rainwater should be fine to use.

The other thing you should know: some areas prohibit rain harvesting! In fact, in some states it might even be illegal.

Before you consider setting up your own rain harvesting system (if you can), get acquainted with your local and state laws to make sure you can even do it.

Why should you consider rain harvesting (or rain barrels, etc.)?

Well, there’s more than just a couple benefits:

  • It saves on your water bill.

  • It saves water, energy consumption, and resources – making it great for Mother Earth.

  • It can be great in times of drought (long-term storage).

  • It can prevent settling / weak foundation in your home by diverting rainfall better.

The best part about rain harvesting: setups vary from being extremely simple to very sophisticated— but if you have a roof and gutters on your home, you’re already halfway there.

Renting or living in an apartment? You could discuss with your landlord/building owner how to set a simple one up for communal use. (Honestly it will save them money, too.)

Some rain harvesting setup examples:

Rain barrel. This is the easiest and cheapest to set up. All it takes is hooking up a gutter to run the water into the barrel from your roof straightaway, typically by placing it at the corner of your home where the water naturally runs off and exits your gutter system.

Cistern or tank (above or underground). This setup is more advanced and will probably require professional skill to install. The purpose of tanks like these is to provide a much larger reservoir for storing water, or to be able to store water farther distances away from the roof or gutter collecting it.

Using rainwater is definitely intriguing! If you want to read more about it and its benefits, be sure to check out sites like Innovative Water Solutions which are very educational about rain harvesting and all its benefits.

Thanks to Garth W. of the ECL community for sharing a few more free videos on filtering rainwater: "YouTuber Jon Jandai of Thailand has very interesting videos on harvesting water and filtering it with their home made charcoal and and for charcoal"

**As always, drop a comment below if you know of any additional resources that may be helpful for the Earth Conscious Life community. Thanks!

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